Environmental Protection Agency

Recommendations and Actions

EPA07: Establish Measurable Goals, Performance Standards, and Strategic Planning Within EPA


Historically, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has targeted its activities toward the implementation of a broad range of statutes and related regulations. These were developed incrementally as major national environmental problems were identified. In response to ever- increasing statutory mandates, the agency has focused more on implementing statutes and less on achieving measurable environmental results.

The agency has also pursued a media- specific approach to pollution control that ignores connections between air, water, and waste. The basic approach has been one of command-and-control, one that often addresses environmental issues in a way that transfers pollution among various media rather than eliminating it. Though this approach has resulted in significant environmental improvements over the past 20 years, other mechanisms must be developed to address the complex, multi-media environmental problems our country faces today.

Over the past few years, the agency's strategic planning process has begun to take hold, but it is still ineffective in directing EPA's resources and implementation in an optimal manner. There is a growing need to link strategic planning with budget formulation and implementation efforts. This would allow the agency to aim for measurable environmental goals.

The need for strategic planning and performance measurement has been recognized governmentwide. The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, signed by President Clinton on August 3, 1993, requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to designate 10 agencies as pilot projects in planning, measuring, and reporting performance by fiscal year 1994. By September 1997, each agency will submit to OMB and Congress a strategic plan that will set measurable goals, direct agency activities and resources, and identify progress towards objectives.

As its responsibilities continue to grow in a tight fiscal climate, EPA must maximize its opportunity to direct environmental change. A strategic planning process that emerges from broad-based participation and continuous assessment of progress will be the vehicle for transforming agency direction in coming years. This plan should be a living document that guides strategy and implementation on an annual basis and provides the criteria for measuring progress. It should provide the context to link resources to activities and activities to environmental results. As these strategic plans are developed, current management practices and delivery systems need to be reassessed and revised to efficiently deliver the agency's services. Building appropriate incentives for headquarters, regions, states, and industry to participate in the process will be an important component of reinventing EPA.

Clarification of EPA's roles and responsibilities in the larger environmental community will guide stakeholders in determining their own function in the country's overall environmental agenda. Many federal agencies contribute to environmental problems that others are charged with correcting. Opportunities for working together to avoid such inefficiencies must be reexamined to ensure maximum effectiveness in targeting the nation's natural resources. EPA needs to take a lead role in establishing a national environmental strategic planning process and an implementation program to go with it.

Intra-agency partnerships can provide innovative approaches in establishing multi-media strategic for environmentally sensitive areas around the nation. Focusing on specific geographic regions will provide a practical means for the current structure of media-specific programs to integrate their resources and implementation. Such cooperative activity should yield long-term working relationships and reveal potential changes in organizational structure.


1. By April 1994, EPA should prepare measurable, internal goals to provide direction for assessing and redirecting existing EPA strategies where needed.

This action will result in the development of a draft strategic plan and will begin to provide the needed direction for fiscal year 1995 operating plans and the fiscal year 1996 budget formulation process. The broader participation of other federal agencies in setting goals will set the stage to develop integrated strategies and budgets for selected geographic areas of the country.

2. By April 1995, EPA should draft measurable environmental goals for the range of environmental problems the United States faces.

Development of these goals must be done in the context of long-term environmental and economic sustainability, with direct involvement by appropriate federal agencies, as well as broad-based discussions with states and the public.

3. EPA should develop performance measures for selected goals and strategies consistent with the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA).

EPA should submit a proposal to OMB to be included as a GPRA pilot agency.


Although these proposals are broad in scope, they encompass a core issue that will determine the agency's overall success in establishing and addressing this country's environmental agenda in the future.

Fiscal Impact

This proposal is cost-neutral. There are no additional costs above current operating costs. Imposed planning should reduce costs over the long term, but this impact cannot be estimated at this time.

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